When David Cook of American Idol fame announced that Canadian rockers Our Lady Peace were among his favourite bands, it was as though a weight was lifted from the shoulders of Raine Maida. Here was Maida fumbling around after a solo record that featured spoken word and a variation of musical styles when all he needed was right in front of him in the form of mild radio-friendly adult alternative rock.
Burn Burn finds the quartet mimicking U2, Coldplay, the Goo Goo Dolls and other anthemic acts in hopes of capturing some audience-widening notoriety, but the shoe never seems to fit. Instead, Maida comes off sounding like Chris Martin with a cold and the rest of the band never hits a solid stride.
Perhaps Maida’s been too busy penning tracks for Cook and Kelly Clarkson or perhaps the band is simply working too hard at getting play in the United States, but Our Lady Peace’s lack of a sound to call their own makes Burn Burn less a cohesive rock record from one of Canada’s biggest acts and more a case of “Name That Sound.”
Despite its cheesy lyrics, “All You Did Was Save My Life” works well enough as an album-opener. It sounds a little like a jumpy Christian rock tune, complete with backing vocals and guitar progressions swimming upstream, but Maida sounds earnest enough and luckily lacks his usual self-importance.
Sadly, it’s all downhill from there.
The verses of “Dreamland” seem to ape Temple of the Dog’s “Hunger Strike” complete with vocal fills, while the tacky chorus doesn’t do any favours either. And “Monkey Brains” is a paint-by-numbers track that insipidly sputters from hard rocker to acoustic balladry right on schedule.
Looking back, Our Lady Peace has almost always struggled with identity issues. By introducing themselves in the mid-90s with Naveed and Clumsy, their two best records, the band became Canada’s very own alternative rock/grunge outfit. After grunge faded, however, OLP struggled to discover themselves on albums like Happiness…Is Not a Fish You Can Catch and Spiritual Machines and never recovered.
Burn Burn is more of the same. As skilled as Our Lady Peace is musically, they never seem to get out of the gate artistically. There’s little here that feels momentous or authentic, regrettably, and the band’s lack of inner distinctiveness is once again evidenced by their uninspiring, monotonous songs.